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Draconian new laws would make it illegal to challenge Israel in New York State

New York anti-Semitism laws

Albany, New York – In a state where voicing your political opinion could result in your arrest, a draconian new set of laws proposed by Senate Republicans could make things even worse.

Just last week, Republicans quietly introduced a series of laws aimed at cracking down on so-called “anti-Semitism” in the Empire State, following a wave of backlash from the widely unpopular Israeli war on Gaza. The legislation would make it a misdemeanor to tear down pro-Israel posters and flyers, as well as prohibit the removal of pro-Jewish materials from public property.

Republican Minority leader, Senator Robert Ortt, said the laws were proposed to safeguard “religious groups” in the state, and emphasised the presence Jews have in New York.

“New York is home to the largest Jewish population outside of Israel, and it is incumbent upon us to take action to ensure nobody is ever made to feel unsafe because of their religion,” said Ortt.

Some of the protected Jewish material would include the now-infamous “Kidnapped” posters, which feature the names and faces of Israeli Jews alleged to have been kidnapped by Hamas Freedom fighters on October 7th.

The proposed laws would also serve to redefine anti-Semitism under the state’s current Human Rights Law, making it easier to prosecute instances of incitement of violence or vandalism as an anti-Semitic hate crime. The laws would appear to affect college students the most, a demographic most engaged with anti-Zionist activism in the wake of October 7th.

Specifically, the laws would:

  • Block tuition assistance for those found expressing “anti-Jewish harassment.”
  • Mandate anti-Semitism awareness and prevention training in City and State colleges, under threat of losing state funding.
  • Add so-called “Nazi symbols” to a list of images that would constitute a crime of harassing conduct.

In New York, hate crime laws are already exceptionally harsh. As it stands, displaying certain symbols in public could earn you a felony aggravated harassment charge, punishable by up to five years in prison. In 2022, a pro-White activist was arrested, harassed, and red-flagged under New York’s unconstitutional firearm confiscation laws for a swastika sticker found in public places at Albany University. The law allows for police to arbitrarily deem individuals mentally unfit for possessing firearms, without consulting a doctor or health professional beforehand.

The NY GOP was said to have formed a “working group” to address anti-Semitism in March of 2023, months before October 7th. During a press conference in Albany, Ortt called on Democrats across the aisle to support the measures, including Jewish US Senator and Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a staunch defender of Israel.

Schumer, like Ortt, believes a wave of so-called “anti-Semitism” in the United States is inexorably linked to Israel’s ongoing genocide of Gaza, which has so far resulted in the deaths of at least 32,000 Palestinians since hostilities began. While the new GOP laws have yet to be approved, the chances of them being rejected appear slim, as high-powered Democrats like Schumer have previously called for tougher hate crime laws to keep Jews comfortable.

“Jewish Americans feel alone to face all of this — abandoned by too many of our friends and allies in our greatest time of need, as anti-Semitic hate crimes skyrocket across the country,” bemoaned Schumer late last year.

Powerful Jewish organizations and their leaders have been hard at work since October 7th to stamp out a rising tide of “anti-Semitism” amid Israel’s ongoing genocide of Gaza. Many, including Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, have raised concerns over Generation Z, blaming social media apps like TikTok for the spread of anti-Zionism.

While a bipartisan measure is currently underway to force the sale of TikTok to a group of Western investors where it can be more furiously censored, other measures, such as the recognition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism, has also been floated.

The IHRA definition has been described as incompatible with the First Amendment, as it lists even mild critiques of Israel as an explicit anti-Semitic act. Some Jews have even gone on to suggest that “anti-Semitism” be criminalised across the world to protect them from accountability.

The proposed laws in New York closely mirror several other Republican-hatched hate crime initiatives in the United States, with none more outrageous than Florida’s current House Bill 269. Signed by Governor Ron DeSantis during a highly publicised trip to Israel in 2023, the law gave local law enforcement the ability to issue hate crime “kickers” and jail time to those accused of even minor infractions, like littering. The bill has been widely panned as a clear violation of the First Amendment but has so far gone unchallenged.

In Texas, Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order to “punish” so-called anti-Semitic rhetoric on college campuses. Like the proposed laws in New York, the order would demand that “all higher education institutions in Texas review their free speech policies” and “establish appropriate punishments for anti-Semitic rhetoric.”

In comments surrounding his executive order, Abbott specifically named the concept of free speech as “an enemy,” and postulated that his goal was to “punish” people for their rhetoric.

The move would pale in comparison to that of “anti-woke” Republican North Dakota Governor, Kristi Noem, who, in March, signed the “strongest hate crime bill in America” to “protect god’s chosen people.” The bill would officially recognize the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism and specifically grant Jews “special privileges” in North Dakota.

Efforts to punish those for their First Amendment right to criticise Jews have already begun to manifest in unexpected places. In Calvert, Maryland, three middle schoolers were criminally charged over alleged comments made to a fellow Jewish student.

To date, no other race or religious group is afforded the same level of systemic protection.

The article originally appeared on The Justice Report and has been republished on The Noticer with permission

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